During World War II, an American pilot and a marooned Japanese navy captain are deserted on a small uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean. There, they must cease their hostility and cooperate if they want to survive, but will they?
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With minimal dialogue to show the frustrations of the characters and standout performances by its two (and only) leads, this is a gripping story only let down by a producer-forced ending that isn't as good as the alternate one.
Mifune's got superior Japanese engineering, but Marvin's got tenacity & Yankee shamelessness, in this weird war of attrition 'tween two avatars of rugged manhood. They whale on each other, tie each other up, fail to build homoerotic tension, live in the moment -- presexual, preverbal, cut off from duty, emotionally transparent, like toddlers. The suspense is wondering if & when & how hard the adult world will hit.
A muscular battle of wills, anti-war parable and an illustration of how co-dependancy must prevail in order for survival in punishing conditions and extreme situations. Gripping, brash and ruggedly masculine, it (mostly silently) conveys perfectly their frustrations, reluctant gradual tolerance and eventual acceptance.